City’s inside workers ratify new tentative agreement

CUPE 882 workers picket outside of Prince Albert City Hall on Sept. 11, 2023. – Herald file photo

City of Prince Albert inside workers are one step closer to heading back to work after CUPE 882 union members voted 81 per cent in favour of accepting a new tentative agreement on Thursday.

The new agreement includes an eye care coverage package, a staggered 11 per cent wage increase over four years, and a salary supplement process designed to help hire new workers in hard to recruit positions.

“The last several months have been very challenging, and I am glad we have been able to find a resolution within our original mandate,” Mayor Greg Dionne said in a press release. “I would like to thank the citizens of Prince Albert for their patience and support throughout this process as the City worked to limit tax increases.”

The tentative agreement includes several changes that were not present in the original proposal made in June. The list includes a commitment to review lifeguard salaries by February, and a one-year trial of a new 5-4-5-4 work schedule, which will give full-time employees an earned day off every two weeks instead of the current three.

CUPE 882 vice-president Cara Stelmaschuk said union members are glad to be one step closer to returning to work.

“I think we’re all really looking forward to everything just trying to return to normal,” Stelmaschuk said. “(There’s) a bit of relief that we’ve come to an agreement, that everyone gets some of their needs addressed.”

The union’s lowest paid hourly workers will receive a 40 cent hourly wage increase. The City has also agreed to cover the cost of any mandatory recertification. Previously, the City would only cover recertification for employees who worked at least 600 hours.

Stelmaschuk said hourly wage earners make up the majority of their membership. Many of them are students who are already in university or saving up to attend. She said those two items would provide a huge boost.

Although union members ratified the agreement, they won’t head back to work until council formally approves it at a regular council meeting. City administrators will meet with the union executive on Tuesday to establish a return-to-work date.

Stelmaschuk said they want City Council to hold a special meeting to ratify the agreement before Dec. 11.

“Our members are eager to return to providing services for the citizens of Prince Albert,” she said in a press release. “We also want to thank the public for their ongoing support. It meant the world to us and made these improvements possible.”

In an email to the Herald, City of Prince Albert Corporate Services Director Kiley Bear wrote that there has been no determination for when council will ratify the agreement. The next regular council meeting is scheduled for Dec. 11.

CUPE 882 members began job action on Aug. 10 by refusing to train other employees or dress in uniform. They began a full strike on Sept. 11.

The union represents employees at several City facilities, including the Alfred Jenkins Field House, the Art Hauser Centre, the E.A. Rawlinson Centre, and Frank Dunn Pool.